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RALEIGH, Sept 18, 2018 (News Wires) - Rain-gorged rivers threatened further flooding on the storm-battered US East Coast as the death toll from Hurricane Florence, now a tropical depression, jumped to 31.

Emergency management authorities in North Carolina said an earlier toll of 17 had risen to 25 since Florence made landfall Friday as a Category 1 hurricane, with its aftermath threatening further flooding as well as potential dam failures and landslides.

Six deaths have been confirmed in neighboring South Carolina, with the latest being the driver of a pickup truck who drove into standing water in Lexington County.

“River flooding is dynamic and it’s happening all over our state,” North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper told reporters.

“This is an epic storm that is still continuing,” Cooper said. “This is a monumental disaster for our state.”

In Virginia, near state capital Richmond, emergency services said one man died after a building collapsed during severe weather, though it was not clear if that death was directly linked to Florence.

More than a dozen rivers across North Carolina were at major flood stage yesterday or threatening to rise to critical levels.

“Many roads in our state are still at risk of floods,” Cooper said, warning people who have been evacuated not to return home yet and others not to go out if they do not need to.

“Please don’t make yourself someone who needs to be rescued,” he said.

Wilmington, on the banks of the Cape Fear River in North Carolina, was almost completely cut off by land but emergency management teams managed to truck food and water overnight into the port city of 120,000 people.

North Carolina emergency department officials said 23 truckloads of Meals, Ready to Eat — packaged US military rations — and crates of bottled water had been sent into Wilmington.

And a wave of solidarity rippled through hard-hit New Bern, where hundreds of people lined up as a local supermarket distributed fried chicken and hamburgers.

LONDON, Sept 18, 2018 - Oil firmed on Tuesday on signs that OPEC would not be prepared to raise output to address shrinking supplies from Iran and as Saudi Arabia signalled it was in no rush to bring prices down.

Brent crude futures were up 98 cents a barrel to $79.03 a barrel at 10:39 GMT, after hitting a high of $79.37.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was up 83 cents at $69.74 per barrel, after rising over $1 to $69.95.

Ministers from OPEC and non-OPEC producers meet on Sunday to discuss compliance with output policies. OPEC sources have told Reuters no immediate action was planned and producers would discuss how to share a previously agreed output increase.

Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, citing unnamed Saudi sources, the kingdom was currently comfortable with prices above $80 per barrel, at least for the short-term.

The news agency reported that while the kingdom had no desire to push prices higher than $80 a barrel, it may no longer be possible to avoid it because of tightening supplies amid US sanctions against Iran.

OPEC and industry sources have previously told Reuters the kingdom was keen to keep the lid on prices at $80 per barrel until US congressional elections to avoid coming under any additional pressure from US President Donald Trump.

"It casts doubts on whether Saudi Arabia will increase output to compensate for the loss of Iranian crude once sanctions come into effect," said Carsten Fritsch, an analyst at Commerzbank in Frankfurt.

US sanctions affecting Iran's petroleum sector will come into force from Nov. 4.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said an oil price between $70 and $80 was temporary and sanctions-driven, adding that the long-term price would stand around $50.

US Energy Secretary Rick Perry said last week in Moscow that he did not foresee any price spikes once sanctions came into effect and was positive about Saudi output.

LONDON, Sept 18, 2018 (News Wires) - The dollar held near seven-week lows against its rivals on Tuesday while riskier currencies gained after US President Donald Trump escalated his trade war with China by imposing 10 per cent tariffs on about $200 billion worth of Chinese imports.

While the greenback has benefited from safe-haven flows amid the escalating Sino-US trade conflict in recent months, the rare spot of weakness in the dollar overnight raised concerns about whether investors are starting to worry about the broader impact of the tariffs on the US economy.

With the latest US moves widely anticipated by global markets, investors awaited the Chinese response to the latest measures and pushed the dollar below a key technical level, potentially opening the door to more losses.

"Unless we see these trade wars start hitting the US consumer directly, this might continue further and we will have to see what the Chinese response will be," said Talib Sheikh, head of multi-asset strategy at Jupiter Asset Management.

The dollar index popped up to 94.607 in the early Asian session but gave up its gains to turn lower on the day. It stabilised at 94.57 after falling to 94.35, its lowest since the end of July.

With Beijing keeping a firm grip on the renminbi in the aftermath of the latest measures and refusing to let it weaken sharply, sentiment was more optimistic towards emerging market currencies and equities.

Stocks in China ended up nearly 2 per cent.

LONDON, Sept 18, 2018 (News Wires) - Copper prices rallied on Tuesday as investors shrugged off new US tariffs on Chinese imports to send stock markets higher and the dollar lower.

Fears that a US-China trade war would dampen demand for commodities have pushed industrial metals sharply lower in recent months, with copper down 18 per cent from a June high.

But with investors already braced for tariffs, copper was supported by the unexpected resilience of global share prices and non-US currencies and expectations that stimulus in China, the largest metals consumer, will underpin demand.

"It (the tariff decision) was baked in," said BMO Capital Markets analyst Kash Kamal.

"The negative effects of any tariffs and any falling demand in China (as a result) are being effectively countered by increased infrastructure spending," he said.

Benchmark copper on the London Metal Exchange traded up 1.4 per cent at $6,028 a tonne in official rings but was still close to a 14-month low of $5,733 touched last month.

Copper was struggling to rise above its recent downtrend line which comes in at around $6,040.

US President Donald Trump said he was imposing 10 per cent tariffs on about $200 billion worth of imports from China, and threatened duties on about $267 billion more if China retaliated.

MADRID, Sept 18, 2018 (News Wires) - FIFA president Gianni Infantino has expressed doubts about La Liga's plan to host Girona's home game against Barcelona in the United States.

The Spanish league wants the fixture to be played in Miami on January 26, 2019, but the president of football's world governing body is not keen on the idea.

“I think I would prefer to see a great MLS game in the US rather than La Liga being in the US,” Infantino said in a statement provided by Fefa to ESPN.

“In football, the general principle is that you play a 'home' match at 'home', and not in a foreign country.”

La Liga have asked the Spanish federation to approve the game being held overseas, while US Soccer, FIFA, UEFA and CONCACAF, which represents North and Central America and the Caribbean, must also agree for plans to go ahead.

FIFA told ESPN it had not yet been officially asked to give its consent for the game to be held in the US.

La Liga president Javier Tebas responded on Twitter to Infantino's disapproving comments.

“I will remind the president of FIFA that in the MLS three teams from Canada play and Toronto FC are the current champions, and in Canada there is a professional league,” wrote Tebas.

BEIJING/WASHINGTON, September 18, 2018 (News Wires) - China said on Tuesday that it has no choice but to retaliate against new US trade tariffs, raising the risk that President Donald Trump could soon impose duties on virtually all of the Chinese goods that America buys.

The commerce ministry’s statement came hours after Trump said he was imposing 10 percent tariffs on about $200 billion worth of imports from China, and threatened duties on about $267 billion more if China retaliated against the US action.

The brief statement gave no details on China’s plans, but Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a daily news briefing later that the US steps had brought “new uncertainty” to talks between the two countries.

“China has always emphasised that the only correct way to resolve the China-US trade issue is via talks and consultations held on an equal, sincere and mutually respectful basis. But at this time, everything the United States does does not give the impression of sincerity or goodwill,” he added.

Geng said he would not comment on “hypotheticals” such as what measures Beijing might consider apart from tariffs on US products, saying only that details would be released at the appropriate time.

Trump had warned on Monday that if China takes retaliatory action against US farmers or industries, “we will immediately pursue phase three, which is tariffs on approximately $267 billion of additional imports.”

The latest US duties spared smart watches from Apple and Fitbit and other consumer products such as baby car seats. But if the administration enacts the additional tariffs it would engulf all remaining US imports from China and Apple products like the iPhone and its competitors would not likely be spared.

Last month, China unveiled a proposed list of tariffs on $60 billion of US goods ranging from liquefied natural gas to certain types of aircraft - should Washington activate the tariffs on its $200 billion list.

China is reviewing plans to send a delegation to Washington for fresh talks in light of the US action, the South China Morning Post reported on Tuesday, citing a government source in Beijing.

Collection of tariffs on the long-anticipated US list will start on Sept. 24 but the rate will increase to 25 per cent by the end of 2018, allowing US companies some time to adjust their supply chains to alternate countries.

So far, the United States has imposed tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese products to pressure Beijing to reduce its huge bilateral trade surplus and make sweeping changes to its trade, technology transfer and high-tech industrial subsidy policies.

Beijing has retaliated in kind, but some analysts and American businesses are concerned it could resort to other measures such as pressuring US companies operating in China.

A senior Chinese securities market official said US trade actions will not work as China has ample fiscal and monetary policy tools to cope with the impact. The government already has been ramping up spending on infrastructure.

“President Trump is a hard-hitting businessman, and he tries to put pressure on China so he can get concessions from our negotiations. I think that kind of tactic is not going to work with China,” Fang Xinghai, vice chairman of China’s securities regulator, said at a conference in the port city of Tianjin.

Trump’s latest escalation of tariffs on China comes after several rounds of talks yielded no progress. US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin last week invited top Chinese officials to fresh discussions, but thus far nothing has been scheduled.

“We have been very clear about the type of changes that need to be made, and we have given China every opportunity to treat us more fairly,” Trump said in a statement. “But, so far, China has been unwilling to change its practices.”

Fang told the Tianjin forum that he hopes the two sides can sit down and talk, but added that the latest US move has “poisoned” the atmosphere.

A senior Trump administration official told reporters that the United States was open to further talks with Beijing, but offered no immediate details on when they may occur.

“This is not an effort to constrain China, but this is an effort to work with China and say, ‘It’s time you address these unfair trade practices that we’ve identified that others have identified and that have harmed the entire trading system,’” the official said.

So far, China has either imposed or proposed tariffs on $110 billion of US goods, representing most of its imports of American products.

“Tensions in the global economic system have manifested themselves in the US-China trade war, which is now seriously disrupting global supply chains,” the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China said in a statement on Tuesday.

China's yuan currency slipped against the dollar on Tuesday after news of the U.S. measures. It has weakened by about 6.0 per cent since mid-June, offsetting the 10 per cent tariff rate by a considerable margin.

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